2011 Milwaukee Grinder Overhaul – Hype or Serious Contender

At the beginning of summer Milwaukee announced it was doing a complete overhaul on all of its 4.5”-6” grinders promising more power, better performance and better overall tool life thanks to a variety of electronic improvements. In talking to Milwaukee’s product development team they were promising to outperform and outlive any of the pro grinder competition in electric tools. A pretty bold statement from a company whose grinders have historically been ok but never considered class leaders.

Working in conjunction with Ohio Power Tool more than a dozen of these new grinders were placed in high usage environments around the greater central Ohio area with some simple instructions. Use the crap out of them and see what you think. So how do folks like them after the first 4-8 weeks?

We held onto a 6117-33D ($149, Ohio Power Tool) 5” variable speed 13A grinder for testing at the Columbus Idea Foundry’s metal shop. We were extremely impressed with this unit; the power is a noticeable increased against a variety of other 5” grinders we have used. After 30-40 minutes of continuous heavy use the grinder certainly got pretty warm but we were not able to trigger the overload protection at any point (we were actually deliberately trying). The tool free accessory changing feature was another big benefit in a shop where spanner wrench gnomes must visit nightly to plunder; we were unable to jam up any of the different types of accessories we tried.


So far of all the units we have seen go into the field none have come back with any problems and the initial reports were all very high praises on performance. You may think 2 months isn’t a long time but in some fab shop environments these grinders are getting used continuously all day and 4-6 months on a grinder considered a “long time”. Testing is certainly far from over so we will report back again when we finally do get some failures and I am sure they are bound to happen unless Milwaukee has changed the laws of physics somehow…

With 18 new models there are certainly a lot to choose from so here are a few differentiators to help figure out which is going to be right for you.

Motor Options: 11Amp or 13Amp
Switch Type: Paddle, Trigger, Thumb Switch
OSHA concerns: Lockable Trigger or Non-Lockable Trigger

Best Value: 6147-30 ($79, Ohio Power Tool) 4.5”, 11A, Paddle, Lock-on – Probably the best Amp/dollar value in the grinder world today, same solid 11A motor as the others and it locks for better maneuverability.

Variable Speed: 6117-33D ($149, Ohio Power Tool) 5”, 13A, Thumb switch, Lock-on – Only one of the 18 new models with variable speed but a serious contender against any other variable speed out there.

Cut-Offs: 6161-30, 6161-33, 6161-31 ($139, Ohio Power Tool) 6”, 13A – These units all come with a 6” Type 1 guard (cut-off only) so you can’t use any grind wheels on it. We were really not happy to see this because we know what the answer will be in the field (to simply loose the guard all together) and that could spell disaster. With the kind of torque these units have guys will be happy to run them with 6” wheels. We are not happy with this choice from Milwaukee, why not a Type 27 guard which works for both cutting and grinding?   

Check out all 18 of the new Milwaukee Grinder models and if you have any questions feel free to give the pros at Ohio Power Tool 800-242-4424 a call.

Our Latest Episode

Win the Best Junk